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Fantasy Football: Latest on Frank Gore, Jeremy Maclin

10.02.11 at 10:52 am ET
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NFL Network’s Albert Breer is reporting that San Francisco’s Frank Gore will play this week after spraining his ankle in the second quarter of last Sunday’s 13-8 win over the Bengals.

“There’s Frank Gore warming up. He’ll play this afternoon, ? is how ankle holds up over the course of the day,” Breer tweeted Sunday morning.

Gore has struggled this season with the 49ers even before his injury. He earned 148 rushing yards on 59 attempts and is averaging just 2.5 yards per carry this season. If Gore plays Sunday, he likely will not receive the majority of the carries, as San Francisco rookie Kendall Hunter will likely serve as the main running back should Gore fail to perform well. Gore was listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Eagles.

Breer also reported via Twitter that Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin will play Sunday despite being limited in practice this week with a hamstring injury. Maclin has been the most consistent receiver this season for the Eagles, making a team-high 19 catches for 260 yards and two touchdowns through the first three games. Maclin was listed as probable for Sunday’s game against the 49ers.

St. Louis officially declared Danny Amendola out Sunday for the Rams game against the Redskins. Amendola has not played since dislocating his left elbow in the season opener against the Eagles. After reports emerged immediately after the injury that Amendola would miss the season, sources now say that Amendola should return close to 100 percent following the Rams’ Week 5 bye.

New Orleans announced that Marques Colston will play Sunday against the Jaguars but Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer is reporting that Colston will only see 15-20 snaps, which is consistent with the Saints tradition of easing injured players back into game action. Colston has not played since breaking his collarbone in Week 1 against Green Bay.

Read More: Fantasy Football, Frank Gore, Jeremy Maclin,

Fantasy Football: Rotobahn’s Week 4 starts and sits

10.02.11 at 9:34 am ET
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Here are our starts and sits for Week 4. A quick word on how we put these together. We look for the players that are on the edge of lineups as much as we can. We try to stay away from the obvious plays. Nobody needs us to tell them to start Tom Brady or Adrian Peterson. If any of these picks creates a tougher decision for you, please feel free to check out our complete player rankings at Rotobahn.com.

QUARTERBACKS:

Starts

Ryan Fitzpatrick at Bengals

Unless you have a stud on hand, Fitz is a good play. The Bengals play solid defense, but they have no answer for what Buffalo does on the outside. Too many weapons.

Rex Grossman at Rams

He’€™s been solid and we like him in this matchup. The Rams haven’€™t stopped much through the air all year and Grossman has underrated weapons.

Eli Manning at Arizona

I’€™m digging the road quarterbacks this week. Eli should do well in this one after posting nice numbers in a much tougher matchup last week. Start him if you normally would, or snag him off of the waiver wire if you are in need.

Sits

Joe Flacco vs. Jets

The Ravens can win, but Flacco will face high-end resistance in the form of Revis and Cromartie. He’€™ll post some numbers, but this will be a down week for him relative to a typical Flacco performance. Look elsewhere if possible.

Matt Hasselbeck at Browns

The Titans new QB is down to one solid receiver in Nate Washington, and Nate is going to get stud CB Joe Haden on him all day long. Not a recipe for a good fantasy day.  Look elsewhere.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Starts

Santana Moss at Rams

Just like with Grossman, we see this as a great matchup. Moss is healthy and playing very well. Grossman is looking for him consistently and we think he’€™ll be finding him consistently this week. Get Santana in there. Oye Como Va!

Steve Smith at Chicago

Carolina should throw it a lot and we fully expect Smith to bounce back from his low output week two. He’€™s healthy and Chicago will not be able to double him consistently with all of Carolina’€™s other targets. A big game is very possible.

AJ Green vs. Bills

He had a tough game last week as he made a bunch of rookie mistakes, but we see him bouncing back strong here. The Bills aren’€™t that strong in coverage, just ask Wes Welker, and the Bengals will be playing from behind. Green’€™s a good play in any format.

Eric Decker at Green Bay

Denver will be trailing and Decker is getting targeted very consistently. He’€™s a solid option in PPR, but he is very capable in the red zone as well with his toughness and size … that makes him a sound option in performance league too. He’€™s a nice WR3 this week.

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Ten Final Thoughts on the Patriots and Raiders

10.02.11 at 8:40 am ET
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With kickoff looming, here are 10 final thoughts on the Patriots and the Raiders:

1. The Patriots announced Saturday night that defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth (back) and cornerbacks Leigh Bodden (groin) and Ras-I Dowling (hip) were officially been downgraded to out for Sunday’€™s game against the Raiders. (That trio joins tight end Aaron Hernandez, tackle Sebastian Vollmer, and defensive lineman Mike Wright, who were officially scratched from the lineup before the team took off Friday afternoon.)

The Haynesworth decision isn’€™t a surprise — he was slowed by a back problem, and the worst thing for a bad back is a cross-country flight — but the Bodden move was an eyebrow-raiser. As a result, the Patriots are now left thin at cornerback. Antuwan Molden is behind Kyle Arrington, and likely next up on the depth chart. If Arrington steps into Bodden’€™s role, that would leave Molden as the nickel corner.

2. As for those of you wondering about Haynesworth, it’€™s important to remember the words of NFL Network analyst Mike Lombardi, who told WEEI on Friday that Haynesworth’€™s true value really won’€™t be known until the end of the season.

‘€œLook, this game’€™s about November, December,’€ Lombardi told Dennis & Callahan. ‘€œAnd I think the key component for Albert Haynesworth isn’€™t whether he plays tremendously in the month of September, it’€™s ‘€˜Can he be a force in November and December when they have to win those games and win playoff games?’€™ And I think that’€™s really the goal for Albert Haynesworth. I’€™m not saying he should take time off now, but I think because of no offseason program, because of no real training camp, I think it’€™s most important to get him in shape, get him healthy, and then get him ready for November and December.’€

3. While the Patriots have to deactivate one more player, you have to feel pretty good about the possibility of wide receiver Taylor Price seeing his first action of the season. The youngster, who has been battling a hamstring issue, has been inactive for 18 of his first 19 games as a professional. Other possibilities to be left on the inactive list include offensive lineman Ryan Wendell, who has battled a calf injury since training camp, as well as running back Shane Vereen, quarterback Ryan Mallett and offensive lineman Donald Thomas.

4. Four links to get you ready for the game: ten matchups to keep an eye on, Nuggetpalooza’€™s exhaustive statistical breakdown, a look at how Tom Brady fares in games following four-pick outings, and a feature on how former Patriots’€™ defensive lineman Richard Seymour is helping reshape the culture in Oakland.

5. The decision to release Ross Ventrone (also known as Rusty Benson) in favor of Thomas Welch on Saturday likely means good things when it comes to trying to predict the status of Patrick Chung. Chung, who is questionable for tomorrow’€™s game with a hand injury, practiced every day this week after having missed last Sunday’€™s game in Buffalo. In that same vein, the addition of Welch gives the Patriots more depth at a position where they are a little thin. (Oh, and it’€™s a safe bet that Ventrone, who has now been released three times by the Patriots, will be back in some form or fashion.)
Read the rest of this entry »

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The opposing view: Controlling Darren McFadden – ‘One of the best players in football’

10.01.11 at 9:40 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Last Sunday in Western New York, the Patriots were able to mostly hold Fred Jackson in check until his 38-yard  catch from Ryan Fitzpatrick that set up the game-winning field goal in the closing seconds.

This week, the task figures to be even tougher as they go up against another big, physical back who again enters his game against the Patriots leading the NFL in rushing.

But while the Bills were a good running team who like the “spread” and “hurry-up” offensive attacks, the Raiders are a powerful team that loves to run the ball down your throat. Darren McFadden can kill you with his 6-foot-2, 210-pound frame or he can turn on the burners like he did last week with a 70-yard TD run.

“Not everybody is built the same or does exactly the same, but we try to explain to our players what the other team does or what the other players do on the other team if they have a certain style or technique or something like that,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said when asked how they plan to try and bring down McFadden. “Our guys try to do a pretty good job of replicating that in practice. We do the best we can on it.

“Some weeks it probably looks a little better than it does on other weeks just because the person who is doing it [has] similar styles or whatever it happened to be. We try to do that and the quarterbacks try to simulate the other quarterbacks; the defensive backs try to play like the defensive backs play that we’€™re going to play. We deal with that every week. I think the players do a pretty good job of trying to understand how to give the look to the other side of the ball. We just do the best we can with it.”

The Raiders have run for 190, 131 and 234 yards, respectively, in their first three games. Not surprisingly, the 190-yard effort against Denver and the 234-yard performance against the Jets last week resulted in wins. Those performances have certainly made a believer of Hue Jackson, in his first full year as Raiders head coach.

“I think Darren McFadden is one of the best players in football,” Jackson said. “I’€™ve said that and I’€™ll go on record saying that. He’€™s one of the finest football players and running backs in this league, bar none, and I stand behind that as his head coach and as his coordinator. He is as good as there is in football.”

Jackson said he’s not concerned about a groin issue that slowed him after Week 1.

“He won’€™t be down all week, I guarantee that,” Jackson predicted. “That’€™s just not him. He likes to compete, he likes to practice and prepare to get ready. We’€™ll do whatever we need to do to make sure he’€™s fine. I think he’€™s fine for the most part. He’€™ll go out and practice and get ready to play.”

McFadden is nearly identical to Buffalo’s Jackson in stature and production. He is 6-foot-2, 210 pounds and can run between the tackles and then use the stiff-arm with best of them to ward off would-be defenders. He did that on opening night on Sept. 12 in Denver when he ran the ball 22 times for 150 yards in a win over the Broncos.

If you load the box against McFadden, the Raiders can burn you in the passing game, as Jason Campbell found McFadden seven times on passes in the Week 2 loss to the Bills. McFadden finished with 72 yards rushing on 21 carries while he had 71 yards on seven catches.

McFadden, nursing a sore groin, returned to form on the ground last week in the 34-24 win over the Jets. He ran the ball 19 times for career-high 171 yards, including a career-best 70-yard TD run.

This is no mistake. The Raiders ranked second in the NFL in rushing last season, running for over 100 yards 13 times. McFadden rushed for 1,157 yards, the fifth-highest total in Raiders history.

Read More: Buffalo Bills, Darren McFadden, Fred Jackson, hue jackson

Nuggetpalooza: Patriots vs Raiders!

10.01.11 at 9:15 am ET
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The Patriots have the Boston sports spotlight to themselves this weekend as they visit the resurgent Raiders on Sunday afternoon trying to put last week’s disappointing loss behind them. Here are some numbers to ponder:

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* – New England has now scored 31 or more points in 11 consecutive games, the longest such streak in the NFL since at least 1970:

11 – Patriots (2010-11)
9 – Patriots (2006-07)
8 – Rams (1999-2000)

Note this: The Raiders have scored 31 or more points in five of their last seven games.

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* – New England’s 495 yards last week was their FEWEST in their last four games, dating back to last season. In their previous 28 games, their MOST total yards was 477.

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* – The Raiders have scored two or more rushing touchdowns in the first half in each of their last two games. It’s the first time they’ve done that in consecutive games since they began tracking the stat in 1991.

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* – Last Sunday was just the second time since 1997 that the Patriots have lost a game despite scoring 14 or more points in the first quarter. The other was a 31-30 loss to Miami in 1999.

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* – The Patriots have had six rushes of 10 or more yards this season, but here’s what looks good: If you eliminate all the rushing plays of 10 or more yards, the Pats‘ are still averaging 3.33 yards per carry, the highest such average in the NFL so far:

3.33 – Patriots
3.22 – Cardinals
3.20 – Colts

The Patriots ranked second at this last season, averaging 3.01 yards on “cloud of dust” carries.

Note this: Oakland is averaging just 2.26 yards on cloud of dust rushes, ranked 26th.

Note this too: Both defenses have been adept at limiting cloud of dust rushing plays as New England ranks sixth (2.20) and Oakland is fourth (2.11).

————————————————————————————–

* – The Raiders have rushed for a league high eight touchdowns this season. No other team has more than four. They haven’t led the league in rushing TD’s since 1982, back in Marcus Allen’s heyday.

————————————————————————————– Read the rest of this entry »

A preview of Friday night’s edition of ‘Patriots All Access’

09.30.11 at 4:56 pm ET
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Patriots All Access airs Friday on WBZ-TV at 7 p.m. and immediately following on Patriots.com.

Among the highlights:

‘€¢ Scott Zolak sits down with coach Bill Belichick to discuss the Buffalo loss and preview the Raiders. Coach Belichick also examines Oakland’€™s speed on the Belestrator.

‘€¢ Steve Burton visits with cornerback Kyle Arrington, who leads the Patriots in interceptions.

‘€¢ Matt Light‘€™s Celebrity Shootout is featured, including Light’€™s commitment to his cause and participation from his teammates.

‘€¢ Christian Fauria and Zolak explore some of the ways the Raiders may deploy running back Darren McFadden on Sunday.

Here’s a quick preview:

Bill Belichick: Al Davis is no copycat but instead one ‘great mind’

09.30.11 at 4:52 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The National Football League is often called a league of copycats.

Bill Belichick recognizes this. But the Patriots coach says Raiders longtime owner Al Davis is no copycat. As a matter of fact, he is his own man.

He reminded everyone of that on Friday, when asked about the mark Davis has left on the game.

Belichick is a historian of the game, someone who has smartly taken things from other great coaches and coordinators in the past and adapted. What mark did Davis leave on him, defensively, when you look back at Raiders teams from the ‘€˜60s and ‘€˜70s?

“Well, you look at the same thing today, there’€™s not a lot of difference,” Belichick said Friday. “He’€™s really run the defense and to a large extent the kicking game out there for the ‘€˜60s, ‘€˜70s, 80’€™s, 90’€™s ‘€“ 40 years, maybe more than that, I don’€™t know. But he’€™s, again they have their style of play, they have their way of doing things. As much as you can say this is a copycat league and things like that, you can’€™t really say that about them because they’€™ve done the same thing now for decades defensively and to a certain extent, offensively.”

Before becoming one of the most iconic owner in all of sports, Davis established himself as one of the great defensive minds in the game. Yes, Al Davis, the defensive coordinator of the Oakland Raiders.

“Through the course of my career, I’€™ve had the opportunity, just as luck would have it really, that some people that I was very close to in coaching were in that organization. In talking football, I feel like I know a lot about what they do, how they do it, again through third parties now, not directly, but through third parties. It makes a lot of sense.”

With players like Ted Hendricks, Mike HaynesLester Hayes, Lyle Alzado and of course, Jack Tatum, Davis built a defensive team around two concepts – speed and intimidation. Remember, Davis coined the expression, “the quarterback must go down and he must go down hard.”

“They definitely have a plan,” Belichick said. “I think I understand basically what they’€™re trying to do and how they’€™re trying to do it. I think it’€™s consistent and I’€™ve taken a lot from that. The personnel side of it, the way they look at certain things in the game and what their priorities are. I definitely have tried to look at those and incorporate some of them into what we do. We do things a little bit differently than they do, but that’€™s okay. You just want it to be consistent and you want it to finish at the end game ‘€“ where you want to be. That’€™s what everybody is trying to do. It’€™s well thought-out. I don’€™t think it’€™s a trial-and-error system. It’€™s a proven system, they believe in it and they’€™re going to follow it.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Al Davis, Bill Belichick, Jack Tatum, Lester Hayes
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